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Monday, December 11, 2017

Published with permission from Media Matters for America.

Donald Trump “has increasingly been back in regular contact” with his former campaign manager and current paid CNN commentator Corey Lewandowski, according to U.S. News & World Report. The news comes amid reports of a Trump campaign implosion and CNN coming under increasing criticism for their hiring of Lewandowski.

As stories have surfaced of turmoil inside the Trump campaign, including reports of an “intervention” to take place between Trump and leading members of the Republican Party, “suicidal” staff members and Campaign Chair Paul Manafort “mailing it in,” Donald Trump is reportedly relying on his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski for advice.

On August 3 U.S. News & World Report wrote that Trump had “gone rogue” and turned to Lewandowski once again for advice:

The Republican operative familiar with the Trump operation tells U.S. News that Trump has increasingly been back in regular contact with his former campaign manager turned CNN commentator, Corey Lewandowski.

Lewandowski was ousted in June at the behest of Trump’s children, who viewed him as lacking the sophisticated judgment needed to assist their wayward father. A major difference between the reigns of Lewandowski and Manafort is that Lewandowski traveled constantly with Trump, earning his trust and bending his ear. Manafort rarely hits the road and has followed a more typical template by holing up in an office with a phone to his ear and his fingers on a keyboard.

The Manafort model has its advantages, but it also has created a distance from Trump that has stalled decisions and left the candidate without a reliable rudder when things go awry.

“He’s not satisfied with what he’s getting,” the Trump staffer says. “So he’s basically gone rogue.”

Lewandowski immediately came under fire after becoming a CNN commentator on June 23, with media observers calling the hire “astonishing,” “totally compromised,” and a “sad move.” Lewandowski also faced criticism from CNN staff who questioned his employment, calling Lewandowski’s behavior while Trump campaign manager “inexcusable” and “unprofessional.”

Since joining CNN, Lewandowski has used his platform to defend Trump and attack his rivals at every opportunity. Most recently, the former campaign manager rehashed Trump’s racist birther attack on President Obama asking whether the president got into Harvard “as a U.S. citizen, or was he brought into Harvard University as a citizen who wasn’t from this country?”

The reports of Lewandowski’s close relationship Trump while being paid by CNN to give his analysis of the campaign confirms the ongoing ethical problems with his employment at the network. On July 1 Lewandowski admitted that he was still doing “the same thing I’ve always been able to do” as an adviser to Trump. Reports surfaced on July 1 that Lewandowski “has not yet transitioned out of his role as a Trump employee, and on July 17 it was reported that Lewandowski was still advising the Republican nominee.

The disclosure that the Trump campaign was paying Lewandowski “severance” on July 13 led to more criticism and ethical questions for CNN. Further questions have been raised over whether or not Lewandowski is even allowed to criticize Trump as a result of non-disparagement agreements reportedly signed by all Trump campaign staffers. When asked by CNN’s Erin Burnett if he had signed such an agreement, Lewandowski dodged the question and refused to answer.

Despite the criticism and apparent conflict of interest, CNN has stood behind Lewandowski as a paid CNN contributor, with CNN President Jeff Zucker saying on August 2 that Lewandowski has “done a really nice job.”

PhotoL Corey Lewandowski, campaign manager for Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, exits following a meeting of Trump’s national finance team at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York City, U.S. on June 9, 2016.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

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